Double disaster for the Dutch in Worlds mixed TTT

A mechanical for Mollema and a big crash for Van Vleuten.

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WOLLONGONG, Australia (CT) – The Netherlands’ hopes of winning the mixed team time trial world title have been scuppered by a pair of dramatic mechanical issues.

Shortly after the the Dutch men set off for their lap, Bauke Mollema’s chain jammed, leaving Mathieu van der Poel and Daan Hoole to complete the effort alone. They crossed the finish well off the pace.

Mollema, after the race finish, told Dutch journalist Thijs Zonneveld that he was riding a 1x setup. “I ride with one front ring, no derailleur. Had no problem with it all year. This is bad luck at the worst possible time,” he said.

No sooner had the Dutch women rolled down the ramp than Annemiek van Vleuten was sprawling to the ground, also the victim of an apparent mechanical mishap.

Clearly shaken, Van Vleuten sat with her head in her hands for some time. When she eventually stood up, she appeared unsteady on her feet. She was still standing by the side of the road, consoled by Dutch team staff, as the German team started their effort four minutes later. When she eventually walked away wrapped in a blanket, she appeared concerned about her right elbow.

In a tweet after the race finished, Van Vleuten said that the cause of the crash was her front tyre exploding. “All bruised and especially worried about my right elbow/arm,” she wrote.

In a later tweet she cast doubt on that initial explanation.

In an interview with NOS, a visibly upset Van Vleuten confirmed that she would require further medical attention.

“I have a lot of pain,” she said. “We are off the hospital to have pictures taken. My elbow doesn’t feel good. My side is bruised and battered. My front tire exploded so we couldn’t do anything about it.

“Riejanne left off and all of a sudden, I was on the ground. I only saw after that what happened and that my tire exploded. I can’t believe what happened.”

The two remaining Dutch women, Ellen van Dijk and Riejanne Markus, eventually crossed the line with a time that would be the fifth fastest on the day.

Van Dijk later spoke to the media about the incident.

“We knew already our men had some bad luck, so that was not the best feeling,” she said. “But we thought ‘OK, we’re going to make the best of it. We need to make up some more time then.’ So we started full motivation and full gas.

“I don’t know exactly what happened with Annemiek. I thought her chain come off. I also know she had a puncture, but I don’t know if that’s because of the crash; I don’t know what was first. That moment I thought I was also going to crash but somehow I rode over something and I was still upright. I thought we had to stop but then it took me a couple of seconds to realize that, actually, we still had to finish with the two of us of course.

“I hope she’s OK because it looked really nasty, the crash. And I still don’t know really how she is.”

It took a moment for the remaining two riders to get back up to speed.

“Riejanne waited for me after the start and then she did a little longer turn,” Van Dijk added. “And then I really ‘OK, we go.’ But my first turn was still a little less hard maybe. And then I was ‘OK, now I’m in the zone again’. And then it doesn’t really matter if you are two or three because you’re suffering anyway. I mean you go a bit slower but you’re suffering anyway.”

Switzerland won the event, with the Italian team finishing in the silver medal position just three seconds behind. Australia was in the hot seat for much of the event, ending with third on the day, 38 seconds back.

Speaking to NOS, Van Vleuten said she was now concerned about her participation in Saturday’s road race.

“Yes, absolutely,” she said. “This is not what you are waiting for. I have pain. It doesn’t feel right.”

Later on Wednesday evening the Dutch cycling federation revealed that Van Vleuten had a “stable fracture” of her elbow. Dutch national team coach Loes Gunnewijk will consult with Annemiek van Vleuten and the team doctor in the coming days to decide whether Van Vleuten will take part in the road race.

”Annemiek is allowed to cycle with this stable fracture, but the question is of course with how much pain that will be,” Gunnewijk said. “We will see that in the coming days. We hope that Annemiek can still start, but that has to be justified.”

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